Thursday, 23. September 2010 23.09.10 13:54 Age: 7 Jahre

PACE initiator of first Respectful Workplace Training for Doctoral Students

In September 2010, a small group of doctoral students gathered for a workshop in a conference hotel in Hamm. Under the skilled facilitation of trainer Sabine Hatzl, the group spent two intense days learning about the various criteria for ensuring a respectful workplace.

So why have a respectful workplace training and what is a respectful workplace? In our current society engaging in any form of disrespect or discrimination is, thankfully, officially no longer tolerated. In certain situations you could damage your career with inappropriate behavior. The goal of this training was to use case studies to create awareness of the many, often subtle, ways in which our society unfortunately still discriminates against women, certain cultures, sexual preferences, and religions, among other characteristics. For both men and women it is crucial nowadays to understand where your own prejudices could lie and to be aware of them so that you can avoid potential serious consequences. The training also offered tips on conflict awareness and management for those who are discriminated against, or for those who see discrimination taking place around them.

Examples of the type of cases discussed in the workshop were:

·         You and your supervisor both know that your colleague is homosexual. When you have team meetings, your supervisor makes frequent inappropriate jokes about your colleague’s sexual orientation. You think you see that your colleague is hurt by the comments, but she does not react. How do you handle this situation? 

·         Certain important but informal meetings at work are scheduled at a time when you need to pick up your child from day care. How do you handle this situation? 

PACE spent months preparing this new workshop together with Ms. Hatzl. There were no trainers offering an existing anti-discrimination soft skill training in English for doctoral students, so we had to come up with a brand new concept. We wanted it to be a true interactive workshop, teaching the necessary skills to effectively maneuver a difficult legalized area in the international workplace.

More and more, research funding organizations such as the DAAD or the DFG require that doctoral students are made aware of gender and discrimination issues and that graduate schools pay attention to this subject, but do not provide guidance on the format this awareness-building should take. The new workshop will be offered every year in future, and will be part of the mandatory soft skill courses for new doctoral students. PACE is also considering an e-learning module on this topic.

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